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Uplifting the Justice40 Initiative in Iowa

Excerpts from a blog written by past IEC staffer Sonita van der Leeuw on IEC's Blog.

As the climate crisis continues to present unprecedented challenges, recent federal investments in climate action also present tremendous opportunities to build a more adaptive and resilient future. At this time, we must recognize and address the inequitable burdens the climate crisis places on marginalized and disadvantaged communities. These communities have historically been underserved or damaged by government policies and underinvestment in transportation, housing, water service, public health, and others.  

In early 2021, the Biden Administration launched the Justice40 Initiative, which is a whole-of-government approach to ensure that federal agencies work with states and local communities to direct 40% of the overall benefits from certain federal climate and clean energy programs to marginalized, over-polluted, underserved and disadvantaged communities. 

The Justice40 Initiative will be prioritized in the allocation of federal funds from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) and the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). These bills provide opportunities for communities to turn big ambitions into visible progress. 

It is crucial that Iowans know about these opportunities and how to provide input as these investments begin to trickle into the state. To find more resources about Justice40 and other federal funding opportunities in Iowa, visit iafederalfunding.org/justice40-initiative.

Iowa Energy News 

IEC Criticizes Draft Regional Haze Plan

Last month, the Iowa DNR released a draft plan to address air pollution from Iowa coal plants that reduces visibility in national parks, known as regional haze.

IEC criticized the plan for arbitrarily excluding the George Neal coal units (near Sioux City) from the analysis. DNR also ignored that those emissions are in an environmental justice community: the area around the George Neal units has a high concentration of people of color and low-income households, as well as high levels of ozone, traffic, and other pollution sources.

We called for DNR to do a more thorough analysis before submitting the plan for EPA approval. Read IEC’s comments here

Transportation Planning - Lessons from the Midwest

In collaboration with the RE-AMP Network, IEC member organization 1000 Friends of Iowa issued a new transportation report to explore how transportation and land goals show up in Climate Action plans across the Midwest and how climate goals are reflected in comprehensive land use and transportation plans.

As part of the rollout, they also conducted a webinar which provides highlights of the report. You can watch a recording here. The webinar touches on commonalities within the plans, best practices for policy and for plan development. It also has guest speakers from the City of Minneapolis, MN and the City of Cedar Rapids, IA as case studies from the report.

Retiring Iowa coal power plants is in reach

IEC's Energy Policy Manager, Steve Guyer, weighed in on The Des Moines Register Editorial Board's call for MidAmerican Energy to accelerate the retirement of its coal fleet

"It is...important for Iowans to know retiring coal is not an idealistic dream," Guyer says in an opinion piece responding to the editorial. 

"MidAmerican hides behind a call for reliability to keep their coal plants open, but this is a self-serving narrative to justify their corporate profits made by selling excess energy made from running their outdated coal plants." Read the complete response here.  

Featured Video

Take Action: Tell the IUB that Iowans want real clean energy!

The Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) is currently taking public comments on MidAmerican's Wind PRIME proposal. While this $3.9 Billion project would bring new renewable energy to Iowa, it fails to include plans to phase out coal plants. Send a comment to the IUB today telling them that we must ditch uneconomical, unhealthy coal generation and opt for clean, affordable energy instead!

Upcoming IEC Events

Know Your Roots: Environmental Justice in Iowa

Carolyn Finney is a storyteller, author, performance artist and cultural geographer who is deeply interested in issues related to identity, difference, creativity, and resilience.

Finney will lead a community workshop in storytelling around Iowans’ perspective on environmental justice and talk with human-service nonprofits in our community about building policy and action on climate justice for the people they serve. Join us from 5-8 PM, Thursday, April 6, for this event.

Fundraiser Friday: Iowa Environmental Council

Peace Tree Peace Tree Brewing Co. is bringing back its Fundraiser Friday series for 2023! Make plans to visit the Des Moines branch on Friday, April 7 from 4-7pm to support the Iowa Environmental Council. 

On the First Friday of every month, Peace Tree will host one of Central Iowa's great local nonprofits, and donate $1 from every pint sold back to that organization! Learn more at the Facebook event page.

Upcoming Energy Events

4/4: Climate Strike at the Capitol 

4/6: Build it Right Seminar, Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance 

4/20: Advocacy 101, MBDC 

4/22: Electrify! Solar, Heat Pumps, and Electric Vehicles, Winneshiek Energy District 

4/23: Going Solar: Houses of Worship & Nonprofits, Prairiewoods Franciscan Spirituality Center 

4/21: Current Revolution Documentary Screening+ Panel, Iowa IPL 

4/22: Earth Day events around Iowa

Have an relevant event we don't have listed here? Submit an event to be considered for our Event Calendar.

505 Fifth Ave. Suite 850 
Des Moines, Iowa 50309-2317

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